This month we were thrilled to interview another true Kaai woman. Ann Maes is a radiant and energetic entrepreneur who has been successfully conquering the marketing world while being a mother of five. She is the co-founder of FLRSH , co-author of the book The Positive Sum Game and Reputation manager at Albert Hein. She lives by the motto ‘better for me and better for the world’, a valuable guideline we believe we should all consider applying to our day-to-day lives.
Tell us more about yourself
Both professionally and personally, I am value-driven, meaning that I believe it is a 100 percent fine to be yourself and to build a good life for yourself, but you can’t do that without taking on a certain piece of responsibility to contribute to a better community or society. I apply this mindset to my passion for entrepreneurship, which is the thread that guides my professional career. For the most part, I have made a career in the field of marketing, but soon I will start a new business: a funky coffeehouse/ concept store that will employ volunteers and people with disabilities. In addition to this main approach of how I deal with my life and my passion for entrepreneurship, marketing and social responsibility, I am a mother of five children, three of whom I brought to earth myself and two of whom I was gifted by my incredible husband Herman.
What does it mean to you to "make a career" and in which position do you feel the strongest?
I count myself unbelievably lucky that the people I’ve encountered during my personal and professional life have always believed in me and trusted me to do my own thing. In this way, my career was able to grow organically. Therefore, I feel most fulfilled when I can take on that role myself for other people and say to them ‘go for it and do your thing and if you need me, I’m always here to back you up’. I just simply love to see when both my clients, partners and people in my community start to spread their wings.
Can you introduce us to your book The Positive Sum Game?
The Positive Sum Game is my life adagio written together with my partner. It revolves around the question: How can I do business that benefits both me and the world? In my early days as an entrepreneur, I was always told that you had to choose between profit or non-profit and that there’s no in between: either you work for yourself or you work for the world. In our book, we debunk this apparent antagonism by proposing a strategy where you and your company can flourish both socially and profitably. Moreover, this approach allows you to outperform the market average. Every entrepreneur looks for the secret sauce to be the most successful and, in our opinion, this strategy is the magic recipe. This principle dictates both my personal and professional life and I’m lucky to have found a partner who shares the same values and purpose in life.
How does a simple weekend look like for you and do you manage to keep your work and personal life separate?
I’m very capable of keeping my private life and work separate. Meaning that I sometimes completely lose sight of work during my personal time and vice versa. My weekends vary based on the presence of my wonderful disabled son Storm. When he’s around, we usually do the same things because he just absolutely loves them. So, on those weekends you will regularly find us in the Antwerp zoo, in the playground or in the public swimming pool. And when Herman and I have the weekend to ourselves, we usually devote our time to long walks and bike rides.
Who is your all-time fashion hero?
My all-time hero remains Coco Chanel. I think she’s an incredible woman because she managed to break many conventions in the most stylish way. She always came across as a strong female you couldn't mess with. She’s the reason us women can put on pants nowadays. Moreover, she invented a phrase that is one of my favorites: ‘Keep your heels, head and standards high.’
Is there any advice you would like to pass along to beginning entrepreneurs?
Absolutely. Look at what is there and not what is not there yet. Entrepreneurship takes guts and a very high level of energy. There will always be people (I call them the big bears) who try to scare you with their doom and gloom stories about entrepreneurship. These negative stimuli are discouraging, and you need to find the strength to look past them. If you focus on what isn’t there yet and let the big negative bears get you down, you won't realize how far you've already come and how proud you should be of that accomplishment.
Which Kaai-bag do you own and what do you like about your Kaai?
I have to admit that I am a big Kaai-fan, and it shows in my handbag collection. My first Kaai was the dark blue Hero and later on she received a baby daughter, the light blue Mini Hero. In addition, I bought lots of clutch bags, at least in five or six colors which I love to give as presents to the people I genuinely care for. These are the kinds of gifts that last and bring joy to their faces. But the question I ask myself: which ones are still missing from my collection?
I really want the new Bowler Bag that just came out, I absolutely love the design with the stitched seams. I also have my eyes on the green croco Ikon Shoulder Bag. My commitment to Kaai is also in line with my motto ‘better for me and better for the world.’ I believe, especially as an entrepreneur myself, that supporting local entrepreneurship is important and contributes to a more thriving community.
This week you can win her book.
Give away starts Monday 22/2 on our Instagram and facebook.
How to win this book?
- Follow us on Instagram @kaaibags or/and Facebook.
- Tell us why you want to read this book and tag your 2 dearest friends.
- Share our give away post in your story (send us a screenshot if you have a private account)
-We'll pick 3 random winners on Friday 26th of February so plenty of time left to encourage your friends to join the give away.
The book is unfortunately today only available in Dutch.